Radio Waves, Asteroids, and Fake Humans: Lux Recommends #284

3 min readJul 2, 2021


By Sam Arbesman, PhD

Welcome to Lux Recommends #284, this week’s edition of what we at Lux are reading and thinking about (want to receive this by email? Sign up here).


The Rich, Weird, and Frustrating World of Depression-Era Travel Guides: “The American Guides were unusual not only for their shaggy opulence and Americana maximalism, but also for their source of funding: the federal government.” — Sam

Your body’s ‘hidden’ senses might help treat epilepsy, depressionAdam G

Map data is shockingly easy to fake, from ‘Pokémon Go’ to satellite images: “It’s time for new mapping ethics.” — Cameron

Glaciers All Over the World Are Shrinking Fast — See for Yourself: “Advances in satellite technology reveal ice masses in Alaska and Asia have lost 4% of their volume in less than a decade.” — friend of Lux Bryan White

Cracking the Code of Letterlocking: “A tale of Black Chambers, lost correspondence, and high technology.” — Cameron

Radio waves from Earth have reached dozens of stars: “As we continue our search for extraterrestrial life, a new study estimates how many other worlds might have already spotted us” — Deena

These creepy fake humans herald a new age in AI: “Need more data for deep learning? Synthetic data companies will make it for you.” — Cameron

The Wire Inspired a Fake Turtle Egg That Spies on Poachers: “Scientists 3D-printed sea turtle eggs and stuffed transmitters inside. When poachers pulled them out of nests, the devices tracked their every move.” — Deena

The Asteroid That Killed the Dinosaurs Created the Amazon Rain Forest: “Fossilized pollen and leaves reveal that the meteorite that caused the extinction of nonavian dinosaurs also reshaped South America’s plant communities to yield the planet’s largest rain forest” — Rahul

A New Study Suggests Dinosaurs Might Not Have Been As Cold-Blooded As We ThoughtDeena

The Lazarus heist: How North Korea almost pulled off a billion-dollar hackT2

Up and Away: How Baby Spiders Fly: “Tiny spiderlings have a unique and still-mysterious way of getting aloft that’s inspiring to those of us who, like them, lack wings” — Cameron

Giant ghostly ‘hand’ stretches through space in new X-ray viewsDeena


Full Spectrum: How the Science of Color Made Us Modern by Adam Rogers: “In Full Spectrum, Rogers takes us on that globe-trotting journey, tracing an arc from the earliest humans to our digitized, synthesized present and future. We meet our ancestors mashing charcoal in caves, Silk Road merchants competing for the best ceramics, and textile artists cracking the centuries-old mystery of how colors mix, before shooting to the modern era for high-stakes corporate espionage and the digital revolution that’s rewriting the rules of color forever.” — Sam

Permutation City by Greg Egan: “A life in Permutation City is unlike any life to which you’re accustomed. You have Eternal Life, the power to live forever. Immortality is a real thing, just not the thing you’d expect.” Full of tons of ideas. Mind-expanding.— Sam


Luca: “On the Italian Riviera, an unlikely but strong friendship grows between a human being and a sea monster disguised as a human.” — Adam K

The Mauritanian: “Mohamedou Ould Slahi fights for freedom after being detained and imprisoned without charge by the U.S. Government for years.” — Deena

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